On Monday, Brooklyn Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving made clear that he doesn't plan on changing his stance on receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at any point this season. That means he'll remain unavailable for his team's home games, with the New York City vaccine mandate still in place.
Irving's decision has been a major talking point in NBA discussions for the last few months. Among those that's openly criticized the Nets point guard is Stephen A. Smith.
After hearing the latest news regarding Irving, the ESPN host unloaded one of his harshest criticisms of the point guard yet on the latest episode of First Take. Smith explained that he believes the Nets winning the NBA Finals this season would be a "disaster" for the league.
"I think it would be a disaster if the Brooklyn Nets won the championship for the game of basketball. I really do," Smith
I think it would be a disaster if the NETS won the CHAMPIONSHIP! pic.twitter.com/BJO9O2wG7T
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) January 18, 2022
">said Tuesday. "The reason why I feel that way is because of the liberties that Kyrie Irving has taken in the past before there was a vaccine issue. Remember, this is the dude that needed time off when the riots at the U.S. Capitol took place. Because mentally he wasn't there and he could just walk away from the game of basketball. Now, it's the vaccine that's the excuse not to be at the Barclays Center for people in Brooklyn to see this showstopper play."
Smith continued by saying that he's a fan of everything that Irving has done on the basketball court during his career. However, he explained that he's very wary of ever committing to the 29-year-old long-term in the future.
"I am an advocate of Kyrie Irving. First of all, I respect his honesty and him staying true to his convictions, that's fair enough," Smith said. "I'm also one of those dudes who believes Kyrie Irving is such a showstopper, he's spectacular. If you wanted to pay him $50 million a year, I wouldn't care. He deserves it.
"But I would never sign him to a long-term deal again. He can't be trusted. So I would sign him one year at a time for max dollars."
Whether the Nets will win the championship remains to be seen. In the meantime, Irving will need to step up in games that he's available for with Kevin Durant currently nursing a knee injury.
The Nets' ability to have their best players on the court has been an issue since the new "Big Three" descended upon Brooklyn. Time will tell if the group is able to develop any sort of chemistry before this summer's playoffs.